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A second unauthorized emancipation proclamation was issued on May 9, 1862, by Maj. Lincoln again issued a public statement revoking the order but urged the slave-holding border states to "adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery." On July 17, 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, which declared that slaves held by supporters of the Confederacy who crossed over Union lines were "forever free." Less than a week later, on July 22, 1862, Lincoln surprised his Cabinet by reading a draft Emancipation Proclamation, asking for revisions and refinements to the document.Though Lincoln was still wary of linking abolition to the war and driving the slave-holding border states to support the Confederacy, it became clear to him that popular sentiment in the North had begun to support abolition as one of the purposes of the war.In August 1861, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act, authorizing the confiscation of any property—including slaves—used in the rebellion against the U. When it became clear that Fremont would not revoke or amend the order, Lincoln removed him from command and revoked the order himself.
Then, in the crucible of the 1960s Civil Rights revolution, dissenting voices began offering a different version of the story.
Some insisted that the Emancipation Proclamation had achieved little—that, after all, it ordered slaves freed only in those states where Lincoln had no authority to do so, leaving slavery frustratingly untouched in a wide swath of geography over which he presided as chief magistrate.
More recently some African-American historians advanced the additional theory of “self emancipation,” arguing that slaves, in essence, had freed themselves by fleeing from their bondage in such huge numbers (a mass of humanity known as “contrabands”) that Lincoln had no choice but to codify their flight by issuing his rather limp order.
Such criticisms, however, ignore the tremendous impact the Proclamation had in its own time, a far more accurate yardstick than hindsight.
Several articles within the Confederate States’ Constitution specifically protected slavery within the Confederacy, but some articles of the U. Constitution also protected slavery—the Emancipation Proclamation drew a clearer distinction between the two.
Forty-eight copies of the document were signed in June 1864 by Lincoln and donated to the Sanitary Commission, an American Red Cross precursor, which sold the documents to improve conditions in military camps and provide medical care to Union soldiers.
“The promise must now be kept.” Lincoln again took up his pen. Was it rather a stroke of political expediency directed solely at foreign powers otherwise poised to intervene in America’s war on the side of the slaveholding South?
Slowly but firmly, he wrote “Abraham Lincoln” in large letters at the bottom of the document that declared all slaves in the Confederacy “forever free.” Letting out a burst of relieved laughter, he glanced at his effort and declared, “That will do.” What Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did—and did not—do has been the subject of heated debate ever since. Or was it merely an acknowledgment that slavery was already dying, thanks to forces beyond the president’s control?
Now, at last, he would sign the most important order of his administration, perhaps of the century: the Emancipation Proclamation.
Exactly 100 days earlier, Lincoln had issued a preliminary proclamation, vowing to free the slaves in all states still in active rebellion against the federal authority on this day, January 1. “Nobody knows.” Lincoln took a steel pen in hand, dipped it in an inkwell, but then paused and put the pen down. It was not, Lincoln later insisted, “because of any uncertainty or hesitation on my part.” As he put it at that decisive moment, “I never in my life felt more certain that I am doing right than I do in signing this paper.” But the day had taken a toll.